Friday, September 28, 2012

Favorite Things #24

Lately, we have been attempting to clean up and out our basement.  We still have a ways to go but  we are slowly making progress.  One of the areas that we have neatened up is where we keep bins full of seasonal supplies.  We bought racks to put the bins on and I have organized and labeled the bins.

I love the Martha Stewart dry erase labels that are sold at Staples.  In my opinion, the dry erase idea is brilliant for storage.  As your container changes contents it's easy to erase and/or add to your label!  Plus, they look pretty sharp too!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Living the Dream

The school where Grace has taken ballet for the past couple of years also has a professional company that annually performs The Nutcracker across the state.   The school holds an audition for several of the parts in The Nutcracker and this year Grace decided that she really wanted to try out.  Today she found out that she got the part of a Toy Soldier!  She is over the moon excited and was heard to exclaim, "I'm living the dream!"  It's a huge commitment and will be an interesting change to our normal fall, but I'm so excited and proud of her.  What a magical thing to get to experience, right?

When I got the congratulatory email today Grace was over at a friends house so I had time to quickly whip up a batch of celebration cookies!  I thought that sprinkles were especially festive and fun and so I also put some around the milk glass (I used corn syrup to get the sprinkles to stay on the rim).

Monday, September 24, 2012


How was your first fall weekend?  We were busy with a wide variety of different things, all the while trying to put the house back together after getting some painting done.  Please remind me to never have things painted again...

Harris had his first Cub Scout meeting of the season and got to watch a sword fight!  I think he looks handsome as a knight!

While the boys were at their meeting, Grace and I had a spa night at home.

Saturday, Gretchen and I canned salsa all day.

However, Grace and I managed to fit in a fun mother/daughter paint party that a friend hosted.  It was such fun!

On Sunday, Grace auditioned for the Nutcracker Ballet.  I'm so proud of her for trying out, she had a great experience no matter what the outcome!

When Grace got home, she got to work making Oatmeal Cookies.  She has begun making them from start to finish!

We enjoyed those very cookies after dinner by the fire!

What did you do this weekend?

Friday, September 21, 2012

A Neater Refrigerator

Ok, this might be a lame post because everyone else in the world already does this but here it goes anyway...

My fridge often looks like a bomb went off.  Does anyone else have an issue with condiments piling up in their fridge? Mine always get randomly thrown in and then moved around from shelf to shelf taking up lots of room and looking very untidy.   This week while cleaning out the refrigerator I had an "ah-ha" moment in regards to condiments.  I grabbed on of my deep lazy susans, put it on one of the shelves in the refrigerator and all of a sudden they look nicer and are easier to get too!  I'm thrilled with the new state of things and hope that I can keep it a least a little neater now.

P.S.  I use this turn table from The Container Store.  I have several and have used them for craft supplies, laundry supplies and kid supplies!  I love them!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Our (sort of new) Garage

A while back I posted that we were redoing our garage to match the rest of the house.  It's done and we are very pleased with how it turned out.  We closed in the carport side, took out the middle wall and put in a wide garage door.  Previously, we had one spotlight in the middle of the peak but we changed that to two carriage lights.  While we were able to reuse the cedar plank siding that was under the vinyl, we did add the cedar shake to the peak of the garage so that it would be more in line with the house.  Also, we added gutters to each side of the garage.

Perhaps my favorite addition is the new door that was put in on the side.  I think that it helps to break up such a long expanse of wall.  Plus, we can get trash cans, bikes and recycling in and out a lot easier!

I'm not sure why the color is off on this picture!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Fall Cleaning

I've never gotten into the whole spring cleaning hoopla, but every year about this time I start having the urge to do a deep clean around my house.  Maybe it's the whole back to school, get organized vibe of September?  All I know is that this year I'm also feeling the urge to go through every single item in my home and purge!

On my list...
Scrub kitchen cabinets
Organize drawers in kitchen and pantry cabinet
Clean all light fixtures
Clean oven (this is a biggy!)
Reorganize attic
Clean out desk in office/library
Organize basement (this is also a biggy!)
Update photos throughout house
Ready mudroom for fall
Clean and shine fixtures throughout house
Clean out craft closet
Replace cushion in mudroom

I'd really like to accomplish these things by the end of September so that I can enjoy the fall and start readying for the holidays!  It's my favorite time of the year!  What about you?  Are you a spring cleaner, fall cleaner or year round cleaner outer?

P.S.  I love my "cleaning tool wall" going down to the basement, it feels very "Downton Abby" like!  Now if only I used those tools a bit more...

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Snapshots of Grace's Room

It's been interesting to me to see how Grace's room has evolved over the years.  She has not yet asked to redecorate her room with different bedding or colors, but she has certainly made her own unique touches.  I have to a tendency to be super stagnate in my decorating, once it's "done" I often think that's the only way it can be!  Fortunately, Grace doesn't feel that way and she constantly rearranges her shelves, desk, closet and nightstand to be exactly what she wants.  While it might not be "perfectly arranged" it is "perfectly her" and that has been a good lesson for me to let go of what I think the room should look like.  After all, it is her space and it should reflect where she is right now (though I still like a picked up room!).

Here are some snapshots of her space...

Monday, September 17, 2012


I have a new love and it (of course) involves food.  A week ago, Gretchen and I took a canning class from Marisa McClellan, the author of the lovely book and blog, Food in Jars.  During the class Marisa gave basic instruction for canning whole tomatoes, but more importantly for me was her ability to make canning not so intimidating.  I've wanted to try my hand at canning for some time but there is this little fear of mine called killing someone with botulism that has been a deterrent to trying it.  

This past week Gretchen and I set aside an entire day to can diced tomatoes.  We started off with an amazingly large amount of tomatoes but between the two of us we were able to get a fairly streamlined system for coring, blanching and chopping.

Our canning of the tomatoes went so well that we decided to go ahead and can peaches.  We used Marisa's recipe from the book for boozy peaches .  Our only setback here was that the peaches would not peel!  That was a bit frustrating but we persevered and the result was definitely worth it!

I've found that canning is immensely satisfying and I really can't stop myself from gazing at the beautiful jars on the shelf!  In fact, I've already canned marinara sauce and am plotting on trying a jam next!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

A Grace Note

Dear Grace,

Yesterday, I watched you out of the kitchen window as you swung on the wooden swing you made to put in our favorite tree.  You were wearing one of your ivy wreath creations, talking/singing to yourself and swinging around a wooden sword.  It was a perfect moment of childhood captured and I was thankful to have been a silent witness.  In that moment I realized that when I tried to picture my future daughter 10 years ago I didn't even come close to how awesome you really are.  I love that you are so uniquely you and that you are still firmly in the camp of enjoying being a child.  Ever since I can remember you have had a strong sense of who you are and who you wanted to be and for that I'm grateful because I think that sense of self will really help you as you grow and learn about the world around you.

You started a brand new school this year and changes like that can be difficult, but you have made the transition so beautifully and joyfully.  I believe that you have found your place, Grace!  You are so blessed to have the opportunity to learn from your amazing teacher and I know that you are going to learn so much from her!  I'm so proud of you for understanding that you needed this change - no matter how hard it might be to leave friends and the comfort of familiar surroundings.

The other day, a friend of mine commented that it was going to be so interesting to see what you will become when you grow up.  I've thought about that a lot and how there is absolutely no telling with you!  One thing I am certain of is that I'm so thrilled and honored to get to be a part of your journey!  I love you Gracious, thanks for making me your Mom!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Favorite Things #23

Up until this summer I hadn't yet jumped on the turkish towel band wagon.  However, when I saw these towels, and their gorgeous colors, on a great sale at Nine Space, I was convinced to try them.  I am so glad I did because it turns out that they are the perfect traveling towel!

(I love this picture because of Bryce leading the charge!)

On our RV trip I didn't want to take up space in our suitcases with a bulky terry cloth towel, but these towels are super slim when folded and hardly take up any space.  Also, they are super easy to throw in a backpack or beach bag because they are light and not bulky.  We used them all the time.  They work for drying off (and dry super quick) after a dip, as an impromptu picnic blanket and they are perfect as flags on newly built forts!

P.S.  I see that the towels are on sale but I paid way less (around $20-$25) for mine.  As much as I love them, $50 seems a bit much for a towel.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A Little Letter to Our Lunchboxes

Dear Lunchbox,
I have to be honest.  I didn't miss you all summer.  After spending five days a week with you all last year, I found it a relief to have some time apart.  It's not you, it's me.  The sight of you makes me anxious and makes my heart speed up because I'm worried about how I will impress you with my cleverness and health appeal.  Oh, and I'm not stupid.  I see you spying the bento boxes and gazing longingly at Pinterest boards. The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence! You're just going to have to accept me for me.  There will be days when sandwiches are all you get and chips might (will) make an appearance.  There might even be fruit in a cup!  I hope that we can still be friends...

Your (not so much) Better Half

Monday, September 10, 2012

Stone Soup

At the beginning of the summer, the children and I decided to plant a little Stone Soup garden.  We had been given this darling tin of seeds, which also contained instructions and a stone, to start our garden, and all we had to add was the book, Stone Soup by Marcia Brown.

After reading the book, we planted seeds in an old metal bucket that Bryce had drilled holes in for drainage.  

The garden certainly grew, but we did discover that we had really overcrowded it!  Oh well, lessons learned while gardening can be tucked away for next year.

However, we did get a small crop of beans and carrots!  And we got lots of tomatoes.

Last night, to celebrate our garden, we made stone soup using the recipe provided in the kit.  We even included the stone!  Honestly, I wasn't expecting much from the soup but it turned out delicious and we all ate it up!

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